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Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 1

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My cousin ,who is really more like a sister, recently had her first baby and she wanted someone to make a quiet book for him.  So, my 8-year-old daughter and I decided to take on the challenge.  After months of working on it little by little (because, let’s face it, that’s how projects go when you’re a mom), we finally finished it!  I’m so excited to share the tutorial with you and I hope it will inspire you to start your own.  But be forewarned:  it is ADDICTIVE and you won’t want to do anything else once you start.  If you’re like me, you might even lay awake at night planning new pages and losing precious sleep, but it will be worth it. I know some of you will want to make one similar to this, so I’m including instructions for each page I made, but if you have other ideas to try out, go for it!  Half the fun is in designing your own. There are no templates because I freehanded everything, but if I can do it, believe me, you can too.

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Here are some things to consider BEFORE you get started:

  • What age child will be using the book?  This will help you determine what activities (buttoning, lacing, zipping, snapping, moving things back and forth, matching, learning numbers, letters, etc.) will be age-appropriate.  Also, make sure not to include small parts that could pose a choking risk if the child is still very young.  This book will probably be ideal for a toddler who is between 2 and 3 (my almost-3-year-old has tested every page out and can do all the activities without help).
  • What size should the book be?  I cut my fabric pieces 9″x 9″ so the pages are slightly smaller than that once they’re sewn together, but you might want to make it smaller if it will mostly be used on the go or larger if you are planning to fit lots of things on each page (like the entire alphabet or a road for felt cars to drive on, for example).
  • How much time do you want to invest?  A quiet book can literally take months, or it can be a much shorter project if you don’t make it too detailed.  Either way, it can provide hours of fun for a child, so decide how much time you honestly want to spend on it and you’ll be more likely to finish.

Once you’ve thought about these things, it’s time to get started.

Step 1:  Plan your pages.  It’s really helpful to make a list of what pages you want to include and what activities you will put on each page.  I didn’t want to have to use interfacing to make the pages sturdier, so I made sure to end up with one felt background and one regular fabric background sewn together (see photo).

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This makes the pages sturdy enough without having to mess with an extra layer, but you have to plan a little to make it work.  Or you could make all your backgrounds felt to simplify things.

Step 2:  Gather your supplies.  Make a list of what supplies you need for each page.  Don’t forget things like thread, velcro, specific colors of felt, background fabrics, grommets, etc.  There were so many times I had to stop in the middle of something because I hadn’t thought it through enough to get everything I needed.  Don’t do this to yourself! *Felt is much easier to work with than most other fabrics because it doesn’t fray and you won’t have to stitch around the edges like you otherwise would, so plan to use lots of it if you want to save time.

Step 3:  Get to work!  Here are instructions for the first three pages in my book.  (The rest will follow soon!)

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For the Dress Me page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 background pages (felt or other fabric)
  • 4 1/2 x 3 in. piece of pillow fabric
  • 5×6 in. rectangle of blanket fabric
  • Contrasting brown felt for the dresser (2 shades)
  • Various felt colors for clothing
  • Felt for the boy, his hair, and his undies
  • Small amount of fiberfill for the pillow

Start by hemming one 6-inch edge of the blanket fabric.  Pin the other three edges under and onto your felt about one inch from the bottom of the felt and sew (leaving the top edge open for the boy to fit under).  Fold the pillow piece in half right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving a small space open.  Turn right side out, fill with fiberfill, and sew closed.  Sew the two short sides onto the felt background just above the blanket.  Cut out a dresser shape, drawers, and knobs.  Sew the pieces together and then stitch the sides and bottom to your other background page, leaving the top open.

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Cut out the shape of a boy (I only made him one layer but I would strongly recommend cutting two layers and sewing them together before you make the rest of him so he will be sturdier.) Now cut out hair for the back and front of his head.  I did this by laying him over dark brown felt and cutting around his head, just slightly larger, and then cutting a front piece to fit over just his forehead.  Use the same technique for cutting out his underwear.  Now pin the hairpieces and the two underwear pieces on and sew with whatever color thread you want to use.  (I hand-stitched the hair and used my machine for the underwear.)  You can either take the easy route and draw on a face with a permanent marker, or you could stitch on his features.  As you can see, I went for the lazy way.  Finally, you can lay him on different colors of felt and cut out various types of clothing for him: PJs, sports jerseys, jeans and t-shirts, etc.

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Be as creative as you want!  I wanted to add a mirror above the dresser but couldn’t find anything that would work for that.  If you do it, post a picture so we can all admire your handiwork!

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For the Laundry Time page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 in. background pieces
  • Felt for the poles, washing machine, and clothes
  • Fabric (or felt) for the laundry basket
  • String or ribbon (approx 10 in.) and mini clothespins OR a strip of velcro about 8 in. long (go with the velcro option if this will be used by a very small child as the clothespins could pose a choking risk)

 

Cut out laundry poles about 5 1/2 in. tall and snip a tiny hole near the top of each one.  Sew them on at a slight angle, leaving the hole at the top.  Thread your string through each hole and pull until it hangs down slightly, then tie each side really well.  Hook on your clothespins.  (Alternatively, sew a strip of velcro (the sticky side) between the tops of the two poles and the felt clothing will stick without clothespins.)

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The grass on my page was added because I had to fix something on the page behind it after they were sewn together, but if you want to add some, I would suggest placing it closer to the bottom of the page.  Now, cut a 4×4 square of felt for the washer and fold in half to cut out a large circle from the middle.  Cut your vinyl to be a circle slightly larger than the hole in your square and then cut a coordinating color of felt to fit around the edges of your vinyl circle. (Confusing, I know.  See the photo below.)

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Now sew the felt circle onto the vinyl.  Sew the outer edges of the washing machine square onto the background and then sew the left side of the vinyl door onto the washer.  Add velcro to keep it closed.  Now cut out a laundry basket and hem the top edge.  Zig-zag stitch the sides and bottom of the basket so it sits on the washer.  Cut out some fun clothes and you’re done!

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For the Winter Wonderland page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 in. pieces of snowy-looking fabric
  • White felt or fleece for the snow and the snowman
  • Felt for the hat rack, hats, arms, nose, and sled
  • String or ribbon (I would suggest ribbon) approx. 10 inches
  • Snaps for the hats

Start by laying out the white fleece over the snowy background and cutting a blanket of snow for both pages (be sure to make one side slope for the sled to “slide” down).  Zig-zag stitch the top edge of each snowy piece onto the background.  The other sides will be sewn down when you attach all the pages later.  Cut out three circles for the snowman and zig-zag stitch them on one at a time, starting with the biggest and working your way up.  Remember to leave a seam allowance!

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Cut out and sew on arms, a nose, and eyes.  Cut out a felt hat rack about 7-8 inches tall and stitch on.  Sew the back half of a snap on the snowman’s head and also on each end of the hat rack.  Make various hats to fit on the snowman and add the front part of a snap to the back of each, first making sure the placement will work. (You don’t want the snowman’s eyes to be covered when he’s wearing any of his hats!)

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Cut out two identical pieces of red felt in the shape of a sled and stitch them together with two parallel lines down the middle with a small space in between.  Thread your ribbon (or string) into the space so it can move up and down and sew the ends of the ribbon to the edges of the page, going over them a few times to get a strong seam.

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And that’s it!

There are instructions for 4 more pages, plus a cover, coming soon.  I hope you’ll be inspired and get to work on your own quiet book!

 

 

 

 


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Why I Decided a Pet Was Worth the Trouble…Again

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MorrisKnowsBest #CollectiveBias

If you ask my son about his siblings, he’ll tell you he has two sisters and two brothers. The sisters are both regular human girls, but the “brothers” he’s referring to are our cats, Edmund and Phil. And the funny thing is he isn’t the only one who thinks of the cats as important members of the family. We all love these little guys more than I ever dreamed possible. I never knew I was a cat person until we rescued Edmund from a shelter two years ago.  He was a sweet, playful little kitten and we all loved him from day one.  He brought so much fun and joy into our household.  It left us wondering why we hadn’t adopted a pet years earlier.   But we were perfectly content with one pet and never even considered adopting another.  We had no idea that it wouldn’t be long before we took the plunge again.

One day, we were outside and a tiny gray tabby cat just wandered over to us looking completely adorable.  He was friendly and affectionate with beautiful green eyes and the softest fur ever.  The kids were all so excited and begged to keep him.  I was certain my husband wouldn’t want to mess with adopting another pet, so I dismissed the idea and started asking around the neighborhood to try to find his owner.  After all, we already had a cat.  What if they didn’t get along?  And adopting another pet means vet visits, added expenses, more responsibility…It just seemed like too much trouble.

No one claimed him, and he took up residence on our back porch and made himself right at home, while we were still trying to find him a home somewhere else.  Thinking he was a girl (we hadn’t bothered to check), my son named him Phyllis.  My kids would call him and he would jump right up on their laps and purr like crazy.  My youngest would pick him up and he would just stay on her lap looking absolutely content.  He never scratched or snapped at anyone.  He would playfully chase strings as long as someone wanted him to, keeping my kids entertained for a long time.  Everything about this cat was wonderful.  After several days of this, my husband and I both agreed that he would be worth whatever it took to make him ours.   And we’re so glad we did!  He loves everyone in the family and appreciates all the affection we can give.  We weren’t sure how Edmund would handle it, but after the first couple weeks, Phil (as he is now more appropriately called) and Ed became best buddies. They play together, eat together, and follow each other around.   Edmund actually seems happier now that he has Phil around.

But aside from the fact that they look very similar, they are as different as can be in every way.  And that’s one of the best things about Phil!  He’s not just another cat like the one we had, he’s a completely different cat with his own personality and habits.  Edmund prefers to relax in quiet places, while Phil loves to play with balls, string, or anything he can chase around.   Ed finds a hiding place when he’s had enough attention, and Phil never seems to get tired of being around people.   Having two cats that are so different is a tremendous blessing.  While one is sleeping next to my daughter as she reads, the other is playing with my super energetic son.  Phil’s playfulness is the perfect complement to Edmund’s seriousness.

Even their taste in food is different. That’s one reason 9Lives® wet and dry cat food varieties are just right for our cats. For wet food, Edmund prefers the Meaty Pate selections, with smooth ground meat, fish or poultry, while Phil devours the Hearty Cuts made of tender, meaty morsels with rich gravy, flakes of fish, and savory shreds.

Check out DollarGeneral.com to find coupons and save on 9Lives® wet and dry cat food for your own feline family members! You’ll find great savings through 5/31/18, and there are so many varieties your cats won’t be able to resist. They also offer specially formulated dry food to meet the nutritional needs of cats in every stage of life. Plus Care helps support digestive health and a strong immune system for older cats like Edmund, while Daily Essentials provides nutrition to support heart health, vision, strong muscles, and healthy skin and coat for cats of all ages.

We love to support companies that give back in some way, and the 9lives spokescat Morris has visited countless schools to promote kindness to animals.  He also launched an initiative to save animals in need of homes.  Check out his Facebook page here.  These are causes our family can feel good about supporting every time we purchase 9lives products.  Our local Dollar General Store carries a great variety of 9Lives cat food, so I can always find all the wet and dry food types that both of our cats love.

We’ve only had Phil for a few months, but it’s hard to imagine life without him.  He’s not just another cat to us, he’s really become a treasured member of the family.  Now the reasons we had for not wanting to take on another pet seem trivial as we watch how much our kids love Phil and how much joy he adds to all our lives.  Just look how adorable he is!

If you’re considering adopting a pet (or like us, another pet) I can tell you it’s worth the trouble.  The little bit of extra work and cost it takes to have him is nothing compared to the joy, excitement, affection, and comfort that this little guy brings to our family.  Plus my son is pretty happy to have as many “brothers” as sisters now 🙂

Have you recently adopted a kitty of your own?  Tell us about it, or share a photo of your sweet new family member.  And don’t forget to go to DollarGeneral.com to find great savings on the 9lives wet and dry food your cat will love.


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The Shadow Magic Series Review From a Tween

Our family has a deep and abiding love of all things Fantasy. My kids, especially, caught the bug. My one true genre love has always been Historical Fiction. Amber, however, somehow inherited her aunt’s passion for all-things-fantasy. As a result, I have been scrambling to find more fantasy to add to our family library, which is chock-full of teen appropriate historical fiction, but sorely lacking in the fantasy section.

Because of this when I opened up my email from Disney-Hyperion and saw Burning Magic which is Book 3 of the Shadow Magic Series I was intrigued, and I knew Amber would be as well. I showed her the book and asked if she’d like to read the series in exchange for giving her opinion of them. Of course, the answer was a resounding “Yes!!!!” Since Amber is a budding author/blogger, herself, we both decided it would make the most sense for her to do the book reviews. So here what the book’s target audience member thinks of them, which I follow up with a quick “Mom’s Take” on the series.

This Tween Review is brought to you by Amber! Amber is a tween who loves Fantasy and is at a 6th-7th-grade reading level.

Shadow Magic

Shadow Magic is all about zombies, darkness, and the dead. Shadow Magic is NOT scary at all! There is nothing that would scare you. It is mostly about Thorn and Lilly, trying to solve a problem or mystery. (This is in every book.) In this book, it is both! Lilly wants to practice magic, but girls are not allowed to practice magic. Lilly’s mother, father, and brother have died from an accident, or was it? How did Lilly’s family die? Will she ever learn to practice magic? Read this book to find out.

I loved this book. It is full of adventure and mystery that will make you not want to stop reading it! I love how Thorn and Lilly solve this mystery! For people who love adventure, I think this is the perfect book for you!!!

Check out what other’s think (great reviews so far 4.6 Stars out of 33 Reviews) & buy the book on Amazon

Dream Magic

Dream magic is all about people’s dreams. Lilly and Thorn try to figure out why so many people are disappearing. Most of the people are disappearing by the Troll Mountains, so they suspect that the trolls are the cause of the disappearing people. Will Lilly and Thorn figure out this mess? Will they have war with the Trolls? You will have to read Dream Magic to figure that out!

I personally loved this book! I love how almost everything is about dreams. If you like fantasy and dreams, I think this will be the perfect book for you! Maybe you will get lost in your dreams in reading this book!

Check out what other’s think (great reviews so far 4.3 Stars out of 15 Reviews) & buy the book on Amazon

Burning Magic

Burning Magic is all about fire. Lilly and Thorn go to see their friend, K’leef. A new Sultanate is going to be crowned and he was K’leef’s brother, but his magic failed him, so now there has to be a new Sultanate. Now all the brothers of Sa’if,( the one who tried on the lava crown but his magic failed him) will go on a trail of fire to see who will be the next Sultanate. One of K’leef’s brothers, Jambiya, wants the crown, but he is bad, so K’leef took on the trail too. Will K’leef succeed in this trail with Thorn and Gabriel on his side? Read the book to find out.

This might be my favorite book ever!!! I love the fire, phoenixes, and adventure in this book!!! This book makes you not want to stop reading it! Seriously, I could not stop reading this book at night!

((Mom note–it’s true, she may have gotten scolded for staying up WAY past lights out to finish this))

If you love fire, magic, and adventure, this is the best book for you! Just don’t get burned up by reading Burning Magic!

Check out what other’s think (great reviews so far 5 Stars out of 4 Reviews) & buy the book on Amazon

Mom’s Take on the Shadow Magic Series

Our family comes from a conservative Christian stance, so while I thought the books looked great, I was a little leery of the “dark magic” portrayed as good when I initially glanced at them. Because of this I went ahead and read halfway through the first book before giving Amber the “all clear”. Then, once she had finished the first book I read through the series myself in its entirety.

The books are fun and perfectly suited to the age group they’re geared towards. While there are “spooky” elements and hard/sad things that happen, they’re handled in a way that is not disturbing to a tween/teen. The dark elements have a fun spin on them, and were not at all presented in a way that I felt inappropriate or offensive. The best thing I can liken the books to is the popular MMO World of Warcraft. (Which, you might know, we love as a family). Much like in the WoW world, each realm can practice magic and draws that power from a different source. In the Shadow Magic books the Shadow Magic and its corresponding Necromancers, Zombies, and etc all reminded me of the feel of the Demon Hunters, Undead, and Warlocks in World of Warcraft. It’s all taken in stride with the thought of magic from everywhere, and it’s not scary, creepy, or over the line.

I’ll also mention that these are books where it’s worth splurging for the hardback copies. The quality is amazing and they have the delicious uneven pages that go so perfectly with the story. A gorgeous addition to your home library that your children will be able to enjoy with their children someday! The typography and illustrations are amazing throughout the book series as well.

As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed the books. The characters are well developed and believable. I enjoyed watching them grow as people. It’s easy to get lost in the world and the plot twists aren’t predictable until right before they’re actually revealed in the story. I’d highly recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy and wants another great author/series to stay up way-too-late turning the pages of.


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How To Give Yourself a Makeover This Spring for $50

This shop has been compensated by Schwarzkopf. #FashionColorExpert #sponsored

*Dramatic Announcers Voice*

It’s time to play everyone’s favorite game….Guess What Color Nicole’s Hair is Now!!!

A few years ago when hubby was still in school, one of his favorite professors was switching to a new school. The electrical engineering program at UT Tyler was small and had a very family type atmosphere. Because of that, the professor invited his students to his house for a farewell shindig. At the party we ran into one of hubby’s fellow students. I’d met him just twice before, about a year earlier. We’d gone out to eat together, and once he came over to our place for a BBQ.  At the party, though, he didn’t even say hello. Then as the night went on he started acting rather cold towards me, which I thought was very strange.

Towards the end of the evening, all of a sudden he bursts out laughing and comes over dying. “Oh, my…..” He gasps. “You’re NICOLE!!!”

“Ummm….yes????” I, Nicole, am very confused.

He continues, “You look NOTHING like yourself. The last time I saw you, you had short black hair. When I saw Bob walk in with a long haired blonde and start flirting with her I was so upset. I didn’t know if he was cheating on his wife or if you had split up. I was thinking that no one had told me anything, and you guys had seemed so happy together.”

We all died laughing!! I continue to joke with Bob about “cheating on me, with me” every time I make a radical change to my hair.

After that point I decided one of my life motto’s must be “Life is Short, Have Fun Hair”

Spring is the *perfect* time to give yourself a makeover! This is usually a crazy time of year for everyone, and freshening up and looking beautiful is a great way to reset and refocus! This week I gave myself a makeover for $50! Here’s what I got (prepare to be impressed!)

Hair Color: $18.58 (my hair is so long and thick I had to purchase 2 boxes–if you only need one you’ll save even more!)

Hair Cut: $20

New Dress: $9.99

Total: $49.57

Here’s the breakdown of what I got, and how you can re-create it in your own style!

You can find all the Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® colors in the Hair Color aisle of Walmart. While I was in the store, I also browsed the clothing section and found a gorgeous and oh-so-comfy sundress for $9.97 for my photo shoot!! You wouldn’t believe how many cute clothes I’ve purchased for me and the kiddos at Walmart over the years.

You’ll remember that last fall I dyed my hair a beautiful purpley black using the Schwarzkopf brand. In between then and now I decided my next fun color was going to be RED! So I picked up the box mix to make that happen. Recently, my roots were growing out and the shade I picked last time was more orangey than I wanted this time, so it was time to refresh and tweak slightly!

This time I picked up Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® in Ruby Red. The Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® is the most fashionable & vibrant hair color that defies fading for up to 9 weeks of color shine. (Vibrant, long-lasting color is a must for a busy gal like me!) It also delivers a “True to box” color result which is always great. Another bonus is the shine and feel of the hair after coloring even after weeks! My hair is thick, on the coarse side, and since I change it out so often and style it with #alltheheat it goes through a lot! I love using dyes that help repair my hair instead of hurting it more!

In my last hair blog post I walked you step-by-step through how to dye your hair at home. This time I thought it would be fun to do a time-lapse instead! Watch my 40 minutes of work in 40 seconds!

Ta-Da!

I also desperately needed a new cut! It had been almost a year since I’d cut my hair, and my poor scraggly ends were begging to be cut off. I found a local place that accepted walk-ins that had excellent reviews and photos and went in! When you do the color at home you can get a nice salon cut for around $20-$30 depending on where you live. If you want to save even more or are in a pinch for time, just have them do the cut and not the shampoo/style.

I absolutely love my new look! It was just the makeover I needed. My hair feels silkier, softer, lighter, and it has such a pretty color and shine!

The after conditioning treatment in the Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® is wonderful and really made my hair feel and look amazing. I’m in love with the color too. As you can see in these photos it looks one way in the shade/inside….

And then it takes on fun new dimensions and tones in the sunlight/outside.

There you go! For under $50 you can give yourself a fun makeover this spring that’s as unique and fashionable as you are!

Want even more Beautiful Hair Inspiration? Check out all the great posts here!


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Tricks For Training Your New Puppy

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NutrishRealMeatTreats #NutrishPets #CollectiveBias

The title of this blog post should be “That One Time We Went To Rent a Movie….and Ended Up with a Puppy”

 

A few weekends ago Hubby and I participated in our 2nd color run 5k, it was so much fun! My sweet mom-in-love stole the kids Friday night and told us to come back Sunday morning to get them.

Thanks to this, after the race we still had the rest of the day to enjoy. We decided to go pick up the newest comic book hero movie at one of the local kiosks. As we pulled in to the parking lot, however, a bunch of puppies and a sign showing an adoption event caught our eye. We went over to look “just for fun” and……

About 30 minutes later we headed home with this precious bundle who we named Athena (Addy for short).

I melted into a puddle when I saw her. It wasn’t me only, though! Bob was the one who asked if we could get her. He’s actually wanted a “big dog” puppy for himself ever since we adopted Thomas last summer. When he picked up this little girl she snuggled into his arms, gave the most contented sigh, and fell right back to sleep. The lady there said, “Oh you HAVE to take her now, she loves you!!”

We surprised the kids when we went down to get them on Sunday. I walked in holding the puppy. Their reactions were priceless. Tyler started yelling and Amber was so happy/excited/surprised she started crying. So sweet!

Thomas wasn’t sure of what to think of this new little friend. But she didn’t give him much of an option. By the second day, they became best friends forever. I melted again when I looked over from our BBQ to see this!

All together now “AWWWWWWW”

While new puppies are AMAZING they’re, well, babies. And during the first few days, you get that reminder really fast. When we adopted Thomas I was purposefully looking for a rescue doggy that was older and already trained. It really did make life so much easier, and he’s still the best dog ever!

There’s just something about getting a little puppy, though! So this time we accepted the adorableness with the full knowledge that lots of work was coming our way!

Having a new puppy means training and lots of it! Since this wasn’t our first time, we knew just what we needed to make training a success! Mainly:

#1 Treats, Treats, and More Treats

Treats are the absolute key to making training easier on everyone! Our timing was perfect because I found out that Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® just came out with new treats! Every dog is unique and they all deserve a real meat treat!

 

You can buy these several different places — Go Here To See! I decided to take the easy option and order mine online. I love online shopping, it makes life so much easier! If you’re shopping in-store be sure to grab a coupon here!

I picked up Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Hickory Smoked Turkey Bacon Treats and Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Beef, Chicken & Bacon Meatball Morsels. They’re both made with real U.S. farm-raised beef/turkey as the #1 ingredient and are inspired by Rachael’s kitchen. In addition to having all the good stuff in them, they also don’t have bad stuff. They contain no grains, artificial flavors, meat by-products, and never any ingredients from China. Dogs everywhere crave the meaty deliciousness in these Nutrish treats. These real-meat treats look and taste just like the real thing!

It’s important to note that they are meant to be treats, not your dog’s main food source. Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Treats are intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only. Please watch your dog to ensure Nutrish treats are thoroughly chewed before swallowing. Break into small pieces for smaller dogs and puppies!

Since our kitty and both dogs are rescues, I love it when I can buy brands that support amazing causes. A portion of proceeds from each sale of Nutrish is donated to The Rachael Ray Foundation™, which helps animals in need. Through December 2017, more than $23.5 million dollars have been donated to animal charities and other organizations that do good for animals. The funds are used for food, medical supplies, treatments, and more. Many more animals around the country need help, and through The Rachael Ray Foundation, together we can make a real difference in the lives of many four-legged friends!

Once you have your treats it’s time to start training! Since our dogs are inside pets, my first focus was potty training. This included  Athena being happy to go outside when I told her to. The next training would be the famous “sit” command.

#2 Consistency & Creativity

If you have a room like a kitchen or a mud room next to your back door that’s enclosed, use it! Buy a baby gate and training pads, and establish a routine. We have an open layout home, and I love it! There’s just one problem. There is no room that has a hard floor that I can keep the dogs confined in for training. This meant I have to be creative! If you’re like me, here’s some tricks.

Buy training pads and put them in strategic areas around the rooms. Remove any rugs from the room. I found for both my mom-in-love and me that when you are teaching your puppy to do its business on the grass, the last thing you want inside is access to a soft place that they can easily mistake!

Now it’s time to work on getting the puppy excited to go *outside* when you say it’s time to! Practice saying “Outside!” Then walking outside together, and giving the puppy a treat. Do this a few times a day, until when you say “Outside” both dogs immediately race to the door!

#3 Pace According to *Your* Puppy

Puppies are like babies. Some adapt and learn quickly and easily. Others take a longer amount of time. Start slowly with your puppy and gradually add things in. If they seem to be catching on quickly, feel free to train for different areas simultaneously. With Athena, I’ve been working on going outside, potty training, and “sitting” to receive her treat afterward.

#4 Patience, patience, patience

No matter how smart your puppy is, they are just a puppy. There will be accidents and mishaps and rebellious “teenage stage” puppy days. Just chalk it up as part of the experience. Also, it would probably be a good idea to stock up on cleaning supplies as well as treats.

In the end, it is all absolutely worth it. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have a home filled with loving, beautiful animals!

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Do you have a sweet puppy that you love or are you in the market for a new little one? Leave me a comment and let me know! And don’t forget to stock up on Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Treats!

 


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Easy Crustless Quiche

 

You know that game where people ask questions like, “If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?”

“What one book would you take with you to a desert island?”

“If you had to live on one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

Well, my answer to the last one is always CHEESE.  I. Love. Cheese.  Cheddar, gruyere, mozzarella, blue, feta, goat…I’ve never come across a cheese I don’t like.  It seems that all of my kids inherited this cheese addiction, so most of the recipes we all like revolve around this delicious dairy goodness.   They’ll even eat vegetables that they normally wouldn’t touch (like spinach) if it’s covered in enough melty cheese.

So, one of our favorites is this amazing crustless quiche that my mom used to make.  It’s super easy to throw together and it can be baked right away or made the day before.  We eat it for breakfast or brunch with fruit, or for lunch or dinner with sweet potato fries or salad and bread.  I’m telling you, it’s delicious anytime and with anything.

And one of the best things about this recipe is that it’s a perfect meal to take to exhausted new moms or friends who just need a night off from cooking.  Our family eats the whole thing now that we have a seven-year-old who eats like a teenager, but I used to always split the recipe into two pans so I could take one to somebody who needed a break.

Enough about why you should make this.  Here’s how:

Gather your ingredients.

  • 10-12 oz. package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed until dry
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 10 drops Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

First thaw the spinach.

When it’s completely thawed, squeeze out all the water.  You can use a cheesecloth if you have one, or place it in a colander and press all the water out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure cottage cheese and sour cream into a large bowl.

Add eggs.

Mix well.

Add parmesan cheese (or have an adorable helper do it for you.)

Try not to eat any.  Did I mention my kids love cheese as much as I do?  This one proudly calls herself a cheese monster.

Add flour (not pictured) and onion powder.

If you want a little kick and more flavor, add tabasco sauce.  One of my children has a serious aversion to anything even remotely spicy, and he can detect even the tiniest hint of spice, so I left it out of our quiche.

Once all of this is mixed well, add the mozzarella…

And the spinach (which should be really dry.)

Mix everything together and spread mixture in an 8-inch round pan.  I used a springform pan but anything that is deep enough will work. Alternatively, pour into two pie plates and make two quiches.  Just make sure to adjust the baking time.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden around the edges and no longer jiggly in the middle.  If you’re making two, bake for 30-40 minutes.  If you’re making this the day before, simply cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake it.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.  And if you’re tempted to feel guilty about all that dairy you’re eating, just remember it’s low-carb and packed with protein and spinach 😉

Easy Crustless Quiche
Recipe Type: Breakfast, Brunch, Make-ahead
Author: Abby
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
Delicious and easy spinach quiche
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 10 drops of tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 10-12 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed until dry.
Instructions
  1. Thaw spinach completely.
  2. Squeeze all the water out of the spinach using a cheescloth, or press in a colander until dry.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Mix cottage cheese, sour cream, and eggs.
  5. Add parmesan, flour, onion powder, and tabasco sauce and mix well.
  6. Stir in mozzarella and thawed spinach.
  7. Spread mixture in an 8-inch round pan and bake for 1 hour, or until edges are golden brown and middle is no longer jiggly.

 

 

 

 

 


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Happy Homeschooling–Even with a Toddler

 

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In the almost 4 years we’ve been homeschooling, there has always been a baby or a toddler in the house. Without a doubt the biggest challenge for me has been figuring out what to do with the youngest during school time.  I can’t even count the times our school day was cut short because of a younger sibling whining or getting into mischief or having a potty training accident, and after dealing with the situation I was often too frustrated to get things back on track. I realized that most of my frustration was coming from trying to fit our lives into a picture of what I thought homeschooling should look like, and it simply wasn’t working.

Continue reading Happy Homeschooling–Even with a Toddler


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How Much Does It Cost To Get A Dental Crown Fitted?

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Dental Crown Fitted?

There is no pain quite the same as that caused by your teeth. Whether you’ve cracked a tooth, developed an abscess or your tooth is simply eroding.

The fact is that you are likely to need a crown at some in your life. According to recent research there are 11 million newly decaying teeth every year!

A good dentist will fit a permanent dental crown; this may feel a little weird at first but it should last a lifetime. Of course you’ll need to care for it in the same way that you do your other teeth.

What It A Crown

In short a crown is a cap that is placed over your tooth. It is uniquely shaped to fit your mouth and match your current bite / tooth line.

It can be undertaken to restore the look of your tooth and its strength. You will usually have to visit the dentist twice to have the procedure completed.

The first step is to ensure your damaged tooth can support a crown. This means verifying the roots are strong enough. At this visit it is common for the dentist to file your tooth; ready for fitting the crown.

If you have a lot of damage to your tooth it is possible they will fill it before shaping it.

You then have a dental imprint undertaken to get the exact profile of your teeth.

The second appointment is after the lab has used your imprint to create the crown. The dentist will then use special adhesive to join the crown to your tooth. After a short period this should feel and behave like any other tooth in your mouth.

The Cost Of Your Crown

The average cost of a crown in Australia is between $1,000 and $2,000. This is not a cheap option!

Fortunately there are options that can make this affordable to you:

  • Finance

Most dental practices will offer a finance arrangement to allow you to have the dental work done but pay for it in a set number of installments. This can help to ease the burden when you really need a procedure completed.

It will not reduce the cost of your crown but it will make it affordable.

  • Insurance

The better alternative is to have dental insurance. There are a variety of companies which can offer you competitive dental insurance.

A good scheme would be one that offers you approximately 40% of the cost of your dental work while keeping your premiums for the year under $100.

You can pay more and get complete cover but this could be considered a waste of funds if you don’t need any treatment for several years on the trot.

40% of your $1,000 bill makes it a more attractive and affordable $600.

The real answer to how much does a dental crown cost is actually how much are you prepared to spend each month on dental insurance. The higher you premium the more complete your policy will be and the cheaper the crown; at the point of purchase.

There are also exemptions if you are a low earner; you’ll need to check with the health authority in your area.
By James


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How To Do An Easy Purple Smokey Eye Video Tutorial

My love of makeup is surely no secret by now! I’m always happy and ready to try the next best thing. Which means that I love discovering a new beauty company. Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the Younique brand of makeup products. I found out that my friend Kristen sells them, and so when she offered to send me some of their best products to try out, of course, I said yes!

Here’s the amazing collection I received! You can check out all of their collections here. It’s a great way to try out a bunch of amazing products for a little less! Plus, Younique has a Love It Guarantee, which I always appreciate anytime I’m trying new beauty products out.

I sifted through the website, poured over different shades, and eventually picked out these products to try.  Younique has great tools to help you find the right shade of foundation. Kristen was also so fun to work with as she helped me select the products she loves the most, and the shades she thought would work best for me! Here is the glorious stash that arrived at my doorstep:

Younique Products:

I’ve been using the products daily for over a month now, and so I was ready to put together a few looks for you using my favorites! I’m absolutely in LOVE with the Eye Shadow Palette. I got palette #3 which is a gorgeous mix of cool pinks and purples. Today I’m sharing with you this super pretty, super easy Purple Smokey Eye.

My favorite makeup tutorials are videos because I love being able to actually watch how to apply the products. Because of that, I want to start bringing you makeup tutorials on how to do easy, pretty looks that are quick enough for a busy mom to fit into her schedule! So this is my very first one! I’m excited to delve in and learn more about the whole new world of vlogging and video makeup tutorials!

One thing that’s especially amazing about this look? From start to finish it’s under 10 minutes to recreate!!!

How To Do An Easy Purple Smokey Eye Video Tutorial

Next time I’ll be focusing on the lips, so be on the lookout for another look with these products soon!

Want to recreate the look? Get all the products here!

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Things To Be Aware Of As a Homeowner In the South

 

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: This post on Things To Be Aware Of As a Home Owner In the South is brought to you today by Terminix a great company for commercial pest control services as well as homeowner services in a wide range of areas including san antonio exterminator services. As always, all tips, tricks, and soggy neighborhoods are my own!

As you might remember, we purchased our very first home a few years ago. The experience was an eye-opening one, especially after years of apartment and condo renting. Thankfully, we were able to be alongside my in-laws for their most recent home purchase and were able to learn some valuable things from their experience before we signed the dotted line on a home of our own. Coming from Wyoming, I never would have thought about their being southern specific items to consider when being a homeowner. Maybe you never have, either, so today I’m running down my list of top things you need to be aware of as a homeowner in the south.

#1 Make Sure To Stay on Top of Pest Control

We actually learned this in North Carolina where I saw my very first cockroach *shudder*. When it comes to living in the south there are more creepy-crawly critters than you can shake a bluebonnet at. While most of these are harmless (like the ones above that Tyler gleefully collected #suchaboy ) others are not so nice. Keeping your home clean, all food secured, and on top of a normal pest control maintenance system is crucial to a happy, healthy home down south. Often checking for pests will be a part of the home inspection before you purchase, but in the South, bugs are just going to happen. Keeping a list handy of treatment for cockroaches, fire ants, and wolf spiders is essential.

#2 Pay Attention to Drainage

This is really more one that you should really know about *before* you purchase a home, but there are ways to help it after. When you’re not somewhere like Wyoming, like the south, it happens to rain, and when it rains, it tends to DUMP rain. While the ground is good at soaking it in, it does mean that if your neighborhood isn’t designed with a well thought out draining system, or you’re somewhere like the bottom of a hill, come fall & spring your yard is a swampy, soupy, muddy mess. This is one of those things that you wouldn’t think about when you’re house hunting unless you’ve dealt with the problem of a soupy, muddy, flooded yard.

#3 Home Warranty Insurance is Worth It

When you’re shelling out for a mortgage and utilities, and everything else life throws at you it’s tempting to skimp where you can. Home warranty insurance covers things that typical Homeowners insurance doesn’t–usually your appliances, air conditioner, etc. In the south, having the ability to call up a repairman when your AC goes out in July and have them out within in a few hours and only paying $60 out of pocket is worth its weight in gold. It’s up to your budgeting style if it works better to put money into an emergency fund each month to cover these homeowner associated costs, or if it might be worth it to pay the money to have it taken care of when things come up.

These are just a few things to consider whether you’re a first time home buyer or have been in your home for awhile! Do you have any southern living tips and tricks? Leave them in the comments!